To learn something new, traditionally people used to rely on books. It is said that books are the collective wisdom of men who have lived in all the generations throughout the history of mankind. So when a man of humble origins wanted to have ‘success’ in life, he would typically refer to books to gain knowledge in those areas he wanted to learn and master. Those were older days.
Look at this day. It seems that God has heard all the prayers pertaining to information and learning, and knowledge is freely available. It is available in quantities that would have made the older generations guilty of possessing.
But to become learned, availability of information is only one factor. It is only a piece of the puzzle. I have already written an earlier blog which stresses the importance of experience to learn anything. Experience comes with practice. And to practice in this information–guzzling, data-driven, well-connected world you have to ignore all those information coming in. There lies the paradox. It is a great challenge that only a trained mind can tackle.
Let me explain. If you sit with the internet to learn something, after a few minutes you will start to get distracted. Firstly, it will be an innocuous link. Something that promises to teach you more of something you want to learn. You click on that, and you land on another page. And whether or not you get more information, the internet is luring you with even more data.
Get swayed by this temptation, and after sometime you don’t gain anything for all those pages visited. The gain-to-noise ratio is too small.
Let me talk about computer programming. To learn anything of value you have to whack your brain. You have to focus hard. And the process is so hard that I personally get discouraged and distracted after a few moments. Adding to that, with the information overload, you are tempted to skim the surface rather than resort to hard work.
I do not know what to do. To browse and skim the surface is a lot of fun, but it does not add value to the learning process. It is just a waste of valuable time. Better use the internet and the information-superhighway to get access to the materials you want to learn. After that, shut out. Block everything. It is time for the old-fashioned way of burning brain-glucose by taking the strain and feeling the pain.
And self discipline can help here a lot. It is more beneficial for learning than having all the bandwidth available.